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The Qin dynasty, or Ch'in dynasty in
Wade–Giles Wade–Giles () is a romanization Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken lang ...
romanization, was the first
dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is the university press of the University of Oxford. It is the larges ...
of
Imperial China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty The Shang dynasty (), also historically known as the Yin dynasty (), was a Chinese dynasty that ruled in the middle and ...
, lasting from 221 to 206 BC. Named for its heartland in Qin state (modern
Gansu Gansu (, ; alternately romanized as Kansu) is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnatio ...

Gansu
and
Shaanxi Shaanxi (; , ; Chinese postal romanization, alternately Shensi) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China. Officially part of Northwest China, it borders the province-level divisions of Shanxi (NE, ...

Shaanxi
), the dynasty was founded by
Qin Shi Huang Qin Shi Huang (, ; 259–210 BCE), or Shihuangdi, was the founder of the Qin dynasty, and first Emperor of China, emperor of a unified China. Rather than maintain the title of "Chinese king, king" ( ''wáng'') borne by the previous Shang dyna ...
, the First
Emperor An emperor (from la, imperator The Latin word "imperator" derives from the stem of the verb la, imperare, label=none, meaning 'to order, to command'. It was originally employed as a title roughly equivalent to ''commander'' under the Roma ...
of Qin. The strength of the Qin state was greatly increased by the
Legalist Legalist, Inc. is a Legal financing, litigation finance company based in San Francisco, California that funds commercial lawsuits on behalf of plaintiff attorneys, applying machine learning algorithms to evaluate its potential investments. History ...
reforms of
Shang Yang Shang Yang (; c. 390 – 338 BC), also known as Wei Yang () and originally surnamed Gongsun, was an ancient Chinese philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφο ...
in the fourth century BC, during the
Warring States period The Warring States period () was an era in ancient Chinese history characterized by warfare, as well as bureaucratic and military reforms and consolidation. It followed the Spring and Autumn period#REDIRECT Spring and Autumn period The Spri ...
. In the mid and late third century BC, the Qin state carried out a series of swift conquests, first ending the powerless
Zhou dynasty The Zhou dynasty ( ; Old Chinese Old Chinese, also called Archaic Chinese in older works, is the oldest attested stage of Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China ...
and eventually conquering the other six of the
Seven Warring States The Seven Warring States or Seven Kingdoms () were the seven leading states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper) ...
. Its 15 years was the shortest major dynasty in Chinese history, consisting of only two emperors, and its territory was the Yellow and Yangzi river heartland, not the modern China familiar from our maps. Despite its short reign, however, the lessons and strategies of the Qin shaped the
Han dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han dynasty
and became the starting point of the Chinese imperial system that lasted from 221 BC, with interruption, development, and adaptation, until 1912 AD. The Qin sought to create a state unified by structured centralized political power and a large military supported by a stable economy.Tanner 2010, pp. 85–89 The central government moved to undercut aristocrats and landowners to gain direct administrative control over the peasantry, who comprised the overwhelming majority of the population and labour force. This allowed ambitious projects involving three hundred thousand peasants and convicts, such as connecting walls along the northern border, eventually developing into the
Great Wall of China The Great Wall of China () is a series of fortifications that were built across the historical northern borders of ancient Chinese states and Imperial China as protection against Eurasian nomads, various nomadic groups from the Eurasian Step ...

Great Wall of China
, and a massive new national road system, as well as the city-sized
Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor The Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor (Qin Shi Huang Qin Shi Huang (, ; 18 February 25910 September 210) was the founder of the Qin dynasty and the first emperor of a unified China. From 247 to 221 BC he was Zheng, King of Qin (, ''Qín W ...
guarded by the life-sized
Terracotta Army The Terracotta Army is a collection of sculptures depicting the armies of , the first . It is a form of buried with the emperor in 210–209 BCE with the purpose of protecting the emperor in his afterlife. The figures, dating from approximat ...

Terracotta Army
. The Qin introduced a range of reforms such as standardized currency, weights, measures and a uniform system of writing, which aimed to unify the state and promote commerce. Additionally, its military used the most recent weaponry, transportation and tactics, though the government was heavy-handedly bureaucratic.
Han Han may refer to: Ethnic groups * Han Chinese The Han Chinese,
. Huayuqiao.org. Retrieved on ...

Han
Confucians , Shanxi Confucianism, also known as Ruism, is a system of thought and behavior originating in ancient China. Variously described as tradition, a philosophy, a religion, a humanistic or rationalistic religion, a way of governing, or simply a w ...
portrayed the legalistic Qin dynasty as a monolithic tyranny, notably citing a purge known as the
burning of books and burying of scholars The burning of books and burying of scholars (), also known as burning the books and executing the ru scholars, refers to the supposed burning of texts in 213 BCE Common Era (CE) is one of the year notations used for the Gregorian calendar ...

burning of books and burying of scholars
although some modern scholars dispute the veracity of these accounts. When the first emperor died in 210 BC, two of his advisors placed an heir on the throne in an attempt to influence and control the administration of the dynasty. These advisors squabbled among themselves, resulting in both of their deaths and that of the second Qin Emperor. Popular revolt broke out and the weakened empire soon fell to a
Chu Chu or CHU may refer to: Chinese history * Chu (state) (c. 1030 BC–223 BC), a state during the Zhou dynasty * Western Chu (206 BC–202 BC), a state founded and ruled by Xiang Yu * Chu Kingdom (Han dynasty) (201 BC–70 AD), a kingdom of the Han ...
general,
Xiang Yu Xiang Yu (, –202 BC), born Xiang Ji (), was the Hegemon-King (Chinese: 霸王, ''Bà Wáng'') of Western Chu Chu (, Hanyu Pinyin: Chǔ, Old Chinese: ''*s-r̥aʔ'') was a Zhou dynasty ancient Chinese states, vassal state. Their fir ...

Xiang Yu
, who was proclaimed Hegemon-King of Western Chu and
Liu Bang Emperor Gaozu of Han (256 – 1 June 195 BC), born Liu Bang () with courtesy name Ji (季), was the founder and first emperor of the Han dynasty, reigning in 202–195 BC. His temple name was "Taizu" while his posthumous name was Emper ...

Liu Bang
, who founded the
Han dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han dynasty
.


History


Origins and early development

In the 9th century BC,
Feizi Feizi (; died 858 BC), also known by the title Qin Ying, was the founder of the ancient Chinese state of QinQin may refer to: Dynasties and states * Qin (state) (秦), a major state during the Zhou Dynasty of ancient China * Qin dynasty (秦), ...
, a supposed descendant of the ancient political advisor Gao Yao, was granted rule over Qin City. The modern city of
Tianshui Tianshui is the second-largest cities in Gansu, city in Gansu list of Chinese provinces, Province, China. The city is located in the southeast of the province, along the upper reaches of the Wei River and at the boundary of the Loess Plateau and t ...

Tianshui
stands where this city once was. During the rule of King Xiao of Zhou, the eighth king of the Zhou dynasty, this area became known as the state of Qin. In 897 BC, under the
Gonghe Regency The Gonghe Regency () was an interregnum period in Chinese history from 841 BC to 828 BC, after King Li of Zhou was exiled by his nobles during the ''Compatriots Rebellion'', when the Chinese people rioted against their old corrupt king. It last ...
, the area became a dependency allotted for the purpose of raising and breeding horses.Lewis 2007, p. 17 One of Feizi's descendants, Duke Zhuang, became favoured by
King Ping of Zhou King Ping of Zhou (; died 720 BC), personal name Ji Yijiu, was the thirteenth king of the Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is ...
, the 13th king in that line. As a reward, Zhuang's son, Duke Xiang, was sent eastward as the leader of a war expedition, during which he formally established the Qin. The state of Qin first began a military expedition into central China in 672 BC, though it did not engage in any serious incursions due to the threat from neighbouring tribesmen. By the dawn of the fourth century BC, however, the neighbouring tribes had all been either subdued or conquered, and the stage was set for the rise of Qin expansionism.Lewis 2007, pp. 17–18


Growth of power

Lord
Shang Yang Shang Yang (; c. 390 – 338 BC), also known as Wei Yang () and originally surnamed Gongsun, was an ancient Chinese philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφο ...
, a Qin statesman of the
Warring States period The Warring States period () was an era in ancient Chinese history characterized by warfare, as well as bureaucratic and military reforms and consolidation. It followed the Spring and Autumn period#REDIRECT Spring and Autumn period The Spri ...
, advocated a philosophy of Legalism, introducing a number of militarily advantageous reforms from 361 BC until his death in 338 BC. Yang also helped construct the Qin capital, commencing in the mid-fourth century BC
Xianyang Xianyang () is a prefecture-level city A road sign shows distance to the "Huangshi urban area" () rather than simply " Yangxin County from the neighboring Xianning), but still from the Huangshi main urban area. A prefectural-level muni ...

Xianyang
. The resulting city greatly resembled the capitals of other Warring States. Notably, Qin Legalism encouraged practical and ruthless warfare.Morton 1995, p. 45 During the
Spring and Autumn period #REDIRECT Spring and Autumn period#REDIRECT Spring and Autumn period The Spring and Autumn period was a period in Chinese history The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dyna ...
,Origins of Statecraft in China the prevalent philosophy had dictated war as a gentleman's activity; military commanders were instructed to respect what they perceived to be Heaven's laws in battle.Morton 1995, p. 26 For example, when Duke Xing of the rival state of Song was at war with the state of Chu during the Warring States period, he declined an opportunity to attack the enemy force, commanded by Zhu, while they were crossing a river. After allowing them to cross and marshal their forces, he was decisively defeated in the ensuing battle. When his advisors later admonished him for such excessive courtesy to the enemy, he retorted, "The sage does not crush the feeble, nor give the order for attack until the enemy have formed their ranks."Morton 1995, pg. 26 The Qin disregarded this military tradition, taking advantage of their enemy's weaknesses. A nobleman in the
state of Wei Wei (; ; Old Chinese: *') was one of the seven major State (Ancient China), states during the Warring States period of ancient China. It was created from the three-way Partition of Jin, together with Han (state), Han and Zhao (state), Zhao. Its t ...
accused the Qin state of being "avaricious, perverse, eager for profit, and without sincerity. It knows nothing about etiquette, proper relationships, and virtuous conduct, and if there be an opportunity for material gain, it will disregard its relatives as if they were animals." It was this Legalist thought combined with strong leadership from long-lived rulers, openness to employ talented men from other states, and little internal opposition that gave the Qin such a strong political base.Kinney and Clark 2005, p. 10 Another advantage of the Qin was that they had a large, efficient army and capable generals. They utilised the newest developments in weaponry and transportation as well, which many of their enemies lacked. These latter developments allowed greater mobility over several different terrain types which were most common in many regions of China. Thus, in both ideology and practice, the Qin were militarily superior. Finally, the Qin Empire had a geographical advantage due to its fertility and strategic position, protected by mountains that made the state a natural stronghold. This was the heart of the
Guanzhong Guanzhong (, formerly romanised as Kwanchung) region, also known as the Guanzhong Basin, Wei River Basin, or uncommonly as the Shaanzhong region, is a historical region Historical regions (or historical areas) are geographic areas which at some ...
region, as opposed to the
Yangtze River The Yangtze or Yangzi ( or ) is the longest river in Asia, the third-longest in the world and the longest in the world to flow entirely within one country. It rises at Jari Hill in the Tanggula Mountains The Tanggula ( Chinese:  ...
drainage basin, known as Guandong. The warlike nature of the Qin in Guanzhong inspired a Han dynasty adage: "Guanzhong produces generals, while Guandong produces ministers." Its expanded agricultural output helped sustain Qin's large army with food and natural resources; the
Wei River The Wei River () is a major river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course ...
canal built in 246 BC was particularly significant in this respect.Lewis 2007, pp. 18–19


Conquest of the Warring States

During the Warring States period preceding the Qin dynasty, the major states vying for dominance were
Yan Yan may refer to: Chinese states * Yan (state) Yan (; Old Chinese Old Chinese, also called Archaic Chinese in older works, is the oldest attested stage of Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, official ...
, Zhao, Qi,
Chu Chu or CHU may refer to: Chinese history * Chu (state) (c. 1030 BC–223 BC), a state during the Zhou dynasty * Western Chu (206 BC–202 BC), a state founded and ruled by Xiang Yu * Chu Kingdom (Han dynasty) (201 BC–70 AD), a kingdom of the Han ...
,
Han Han may refer to: Ethnic groups * Han Chinese The Han Chinese,
. Huayuqiao.org. Retrieved on ...
, Wei and Qin. The rulers of these states styled themselves as kings, rather than using the titles of lower nobility they had previously held. However, none elevated himself to believe that he had the "Mandate of Heaven", as the Zhou kings had claimed, nor that he had the right to offer sacrifices—they left this to the Zhou rulers.Morton 1995, p. 25 Before their conquest in the fourth and third centuries BC, the Qin suffered several setbacks. Shang Yang was executed in 338 BC by King Huiwen due to a personal grudge harboured from his youth. There was also internal strife over the Qin succession in 307 BC, which decentralised Qin authority somewhat. Qin was defeated by an alliance of the other states in 295 BC, and shortly after suffered another defeat by the state of Zhao, because the majority of their army was then defending against the Qi. The aggressive statesman Fan Sui ( 范雎), however, soon came to power as prime minister even as the problem of the succession was resolved, and he began an expansionist policy that had originated in Jin and Qi, which prompted the Qin to attempt to conquer the other states.Lewis 2007, pp. 38–39 The Qin were swift in their assault on the other states. They first attacked the Han, directly east, and took their capital city of Xinzheng in 230 BC. They then struck northward; the state of Zhao surrendered in 228 BC, and the northernmost state of Yan followed, falling in 226 BC. Next, Qin armies launched assaults to the east, and later the south as well; they took the Wei city of (now called Kaifeng) in 225 BC and forced the Chu to surrender by 223 BC. Lastly, they deposed the Zhou dynasty's remnants in
Luoyang Luoyang is a city located in the confluence area of Luo River and Yellow River The Yellow River (Chinese: , Jin Chinese, Jin: uə xɔ Standard Beijing Mandarin, Mandarin: ''Huáng hé'' ) is the second-longest river in China, afte ...

Luoyang
and conquered the Qi, taking the city of Linzi in 221 BC.Lewis 2007, p. 10 When the conquests were complete in 221 BC,
King Zheng Qin Shi Huang (, ; 18 February 25910 September 210) was the founder of the Qin dynasty and the first Emperor of China, emperor of a unified China. From 247 to 221 BC he was Zheng, King of Qin (, ''Qín Wáng Zhèng'', personal name 嬴政 ''Y ...
who had first assumed the throne of the Qin state at age 9became the effective ruler of China. The subjugation of the six states was done by King Zheng who had used efficient persuasion and exemplary strategy. He solidified his position as sole ruler with the abdication of his prime minister, Lü Buwei. The states made by the emperor were assigned to officials dedicated to the task rather than place the burden on people from the royal family. He then combined the titles of the earlier
Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors The Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors were two groups of Chinese mythology, mythological rulers or deities in ancient northern China. The Three Sovereigns lived before The Five Emperors, who have been assigned dates in a period from circa 3162 B ...
into his new name: Shi Huangdi () or "First Emperor".World and Its Peoples: Eastern and Southern Asia, p. 36 The newly declared emperor ordered all weapons not in the possession of the Qin to be confiscated and melted down. The resulting metal was sufficient to build twelve large ornamental statues at the Qin's newly declared capital,
Xianyang Xianyang () is a prefecture-level city A road sign shows distance to the "Huangshi urban area" () rather than simply " Yangxin County from the neighboring Xianning), but still from the Huangshi main urban area. A prefectural-level muni ...

Xianyang
.Morton 1995, p. 47


Southward expansion

In 214 BC, Qin Shi Huang secured his boundaries to the north with a fraction (100,000 men) of his large army, and sent the majority (500,000 men) of his army south to conquer the territory of the southern tribes. Prior to the events leading to Qin dominance over China, they had gained possession of much of
Sichuan Sichuan (; , ; alternatively romanized as Szechuan or Szechwan) is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, admini ...

Sichuan
to the southwest. The Qin army was unfamiliar with the jungle terrain, and it was defeated by the southern tribes'
guerrilla warfare Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare Irregular warfare (IW) is defined in United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States ...
tactics with over 100,000 men lost. However, in the defeat Qin was successful in building a canal to the south, which they used heavily for supplying and reinforcing their troops during their second attack to the south. Building on these gains, the Qin armies conquered the coastal lands surrounding
Guangzhou Guangzhou (, ; ; or ; ), also known as Canton and alternatively romanized as Kwongchow or Kwangchow, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the ...

Guangzhou
, and took the provinces of
Fuzhou Fuzhou (; , Fuzhounese The Fuzhou dialect (, FR: ), also Foochow, Hokchew, Hok-chiu, or Fuzhounese, is the prestige Prestige refers to a good reputation or high esteem; in earlier usage, ''prestige'' meant "showiness". (19th c.) Prest ...

Fuzhou
and
Guilin Guilin (Standard Zhuang: ''Gveilinz''; postal map romanization, alternatively romanization of Chinese, romanized as Kweilin) is a prefecture-level city in the northeast of China's Guangxi, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. It is situated on th ...

Guilin
. They struck as far south as
Hanoi , population_total = 8,053,663 ( 2nd) , population_as_of = 2019 , population_demonym = Hanoian , population_density_km2 = auto , population_urban = 3,962,310 , population_density_urban_km2 = 14708.8 , popula ...

Hanoi
. After these victories in the south, Qin Shi Huang moved over 100,000 prisoners and exiles to colonize the newly conquered area. In terms of extending the boundaries of his empire, the First Emperor was extremely successful in the south.


Campaigns against the Xiongnu

However, while the empire at times was extended to the north, the Qin could rarely hold on to the land for long. The tribes of these locations, collectively called the Hu by the Qin, were free from Chinese rule during the majority of the dynasty.Lewis 2007, p. 129 Prohibited from trading with Qin dynasty peasants, the
Xiongnu The Xiongnu (, ) were a tribal confederation A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common action. Usually created by a treaty A treaty is a formal ...

Xiongnu
tribe living in the region in northwest China often raided them instead, prompting the Qin to retaliate. After a military campaign led by General Meng Tian, the region was conquered in 215 BC and agriculture was established; the peasants, however, were discontented and later revolted. The succeeding Han dynasty also expanded into the Ordos due to overpopulation, but depleted their resources in the process. Indeed, this was true of the dynasty's borders in multiple directions; modern
Xinjiang Xinjiang (),, SASM/GNC: ''Xinjang''; zh, c=, p=Xīnjiāng; alternately romanized as Sinkiang officially the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and formerly romanized as Sinkiang, is a landlocked autonomous region An autonomous ...

Xinjiang
, Tibet,
Manchuria Manchuria is an exonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its populatio ...

Manchuria
, Inner Mongolia, and regions to the southeast were foreign to the Qin, and even areas over which they had military control were culturally distinct.


Fall from power

Three assassination attempts were made on Qin Shi Huang, leading him to become paranoid and obsessed with immortality. He died in 210 BC, while on a trip to the far eastern reaches of his empire in an attempt to procure an
elixir An elixir is a sweet liquid used for medical purposes, to be taken orally and intended to cure one's illness. When used as a pharmaceutical preparation, an elixir contains at least one active ingredient An active ingredient is the ingredient ...
of immortality from
Taoist Taoism (), or Daoism (), is a philosophical and spiritual tradition of Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of c ...
magicians, who claimed the elixir was stuck on an island guarded by a sea monster. The chief
eunuch A eunuch ( ) is a man A man is an adult male Male (♂) is the sex of an organism that produces the gamete known as sperm. A male gamete can fuse with a larger female gamete, or ovum, in the process of fertilization. A male cannot ...

eunuch
,
Zhao Gao Zhao Gao (died 207 BC) was a Chinese politician and calligrapher.. He was an official of the Qin dynasty of China. Allegedly a eunuch, he served as a close aide to all three rulers of the Qin dynasty – Qin Shi Huang, Qin Er Shi and Ziying of ...

Zhao Gao
, and the prime minister,
Li Si Li Si (; 280 BCSeptember or October 208 BC) was a Chinese calligrapher, philosopher, and politician of the Qin dynasty. He served as Chancellor (China), Chancellor (or Prime Minister) from 246 to 208 BC under two rulers: Qin Shi Huang, the ki ...

Li Si
, hid the news of his death upon their return until they were able to alter his will to place on the throne the dead emperor's most pliable son, Huhai, who took the name of
Qin Er Shi Qin Er Shi (; 231/222 – October 207 BCE) was the second emperor of the Qin dynasty The Qin dynasty, or Ch'in dynasty in Wade–Giles Wade–Giles () is a Romanization of Chinese, romanization system for Standard Chinese, Man ...
. They believed that they would be able to manipulate him to their own ends, and thus effectively control the empire. Qin Er Shi was, indeed, inept and pliable. He executed many ministers and imperial princes, continued massive building projects (one of his most extravagant projects was lacquering the city walls), enlarged the army, increased taxes, and arrested messengers who brought him bad news. As a result, men from all over China revolted, attacking officials, raising armies, and declaring themselves kings of seized territories.Kinney and Hardy 2005, pp. 13–15 During this time, Li Si and Zhao Gao fell out, and Li Si was executed. Zhao Gao decided to force Qin Er Shi to commit suicide due to Qin Er Shi's incompetence. Upon this,
Ziying Ziying, King of Qin (, died January 206  BC) was the third and last ruler of the Qin dynasty. He ruled over a fragmented Qin Empire for 46 days, from mid-October to early December 207  BC. He is referred to in some sources with th ...
, a nephew of Qin Er Shi, ascended the throne, and immediately executed Zhao Gao. Ziying, seeing that increasing unrest was growing among the peopleThis was largely caused by regional differences which survived despite the Qin's attempt to impose uniformity. and that many local officials had declared themselves kings, attempted to cling to his throne by declaring himself one king among all the others. He was undermined by his ineptitude, however, and popular revolt broke out in 209 BC. When Chu rebels under the lieutenant
Liu Bang Emperor Gaozu of Han (256 – 1 June 195 BC), born Liu Bang () with courtesy name Ji (季), was the founder and first emperor of the Han dynasty, reigning in 202–195 BC. His temple name was "Taizu" while his posthumous name was Emper ...

Liu Bang
attacked, a state in such turmoil could not hold for long. Ziying was defeated near the
Wei River The Wei River () is a major river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course ...
in 207 BC and surrendered shortly after; he was executed by the Chu leader
Xiang Yu Xiang Yu (, –202 BC), born Xiang Ji (), was the Hegemon-King (Chinese: 霸王, ''Bà Wáng'') of Western Chu Chu (, Hanyu Pinyin: Chǔ, Old Chinese: ''*s-r̥aʔ'') was a Zhou dynasty ancient Chinese states, vassal state. Their fir ...

Xiang Yu
. The Qin capital was destroyed the next year, and this is considered by historians to be the end of the Qin Empire.The first emperor of the Qin had boasted that the dynasty would last 10,000 generations; it lasted only about 15 years. (Morton 1995, p. 49) Liu Bang then betrayed and defeated Xiang Yu, declaring himself Emperor GaozuMeaning "High Progenitor". of the new
Han dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han dynasty
on 28 February 202 BC.Morton 1995, pp. 49–50 Despite the short duration of the Qin dynasty, it was very influential on the structure of future dynasties.


Culture and society


Domestic life

The aristocracy of the Qin were largely similar in their culture and daily life. Regional variations in culture were considered a symbol of the lower classes. This stemmed from the Zhou and was seized upon by the Qin, as such variations were seen as contrary to the unification that the government strove to achieve.Lewis 2007, p. 11 Commoners and rural villagers, who made up over 90% of the population,Lewis 2007, p. 102 very rarely left the villages or farmsteads where they were born. Forms of employment differed by region, though farming was almost universally common. Professions were hereditary; a father's employment was passed to his eldest son after he died.Lewis 2007, p. 15 The ''
Lüshi Chunqiu The ''Lüshi Chunqiu'', also known in English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which h ...
''A text named for its sponsor Lü Buwei; the prime minister of the Qin directly preceding the conquest of the other states. gave examples of how, when commoners are obsessed with material wealth, instead of the idealism of a man who "makes things serve him", they were "reduced to the service of things".Lewis 2007, p. 16 Peasants were rarely figured in literature during the Qin dynasty and afterwards; scholars and others of more elite status preferred the excitement of cities and the lure of politics. One notable exception to this was
Shen Nong Shennong (), variously translated as "Divine Farmer" or "Divine Husbandman", was a mythological Chinese ruler who has become a deity in Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republ ...
, the so-called "Divine Father", who taught that households should grow their own food. "If in one's prime he does not plow, someone in the world will grow hungry. If in one's prime she does not weave, someone in the world will be cold." The Qin encouraged this; a ritual was performed once every few years that consisted of important government officials taking turns with the plow on a special field, to create a simulation of government interest and activity within agriculture. During the Qin dynasty,
Slavery in China Slavery in China has taken various forms throughout history. Slavery was abolished as a legally recognized institution, including in a 1909 lawHallet, Nicole.China and Antislavery". ''Encyclopedia of Antislavery and Abolition'', Vol. 1, p. 154156. ...
began to gain momentum and usage.


Architecture

Warring States-era architecture had several definitive aspects. City walls, used for defense, were made longer, and indeed several secondary walls were also sometimes built to separate the different districts. Versatility in federal structures was emphasized, to create a sense of authority and absolute power. Architectural elements such as high towers, pillar gates, terraces, and high buildings amply conveyed this.


Philosophy and literature

The written language of the Qin was
logographic In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign lan ...
, as that of the Zhou had been. As one of his most influential achievements in life, prime minister
Li Si Li Si (; 280 BCSeptember or October 208 BC) was a Chinese calligrapher, philosopher, and politician of the Qin dynasty. He served as Chancellor (China), Chancellor (or Prime Minister) from 246 to 208 BC under two rulers: Qin Shi Huang, the ki ...

Li Si
standardized the writing system to be of uniform size and shape across the whole country. This would have a unifying effect on the Chinese culture for thousands of years. He is also credited with creating the "lesser-seal" () style of calligraphy, which serves as a basis for modern Chinese and is still used in cards, posters, and advertising. During the Warring States period, the
Hundred Schools of Thought The Hundred Schools of Thought () were philosophies and schools that flourished from the 6th century BC to 221 BC during the Spring and Autumn period#REDIRECT Spring and Autumn period The Spring and Autumn period was a period in Chinese histo ...
comprised many different philosophies proposed by Chinese scholars. In 221 BC, however, the First Emperor conquered all of the states and governed with a single philosophy, Legalism. At least one school of thought,
Mohism Mohism or Moism () was an ancient Chinese philosophy Chinese philosophy originates in the Spring and Autumn period () and Warring States period (), during a period known as the "Hundred Schools of Thought", which was characteri ...
, was eradicated, though the reason is not known. Despite the Qin's state ideology and Mohism being similar in certain regards, it is possible that Mohists were sought and killed by the state's armies due to paramilitary activities.
Confucius } Confucius ( ; zh, s=, p=Kǒng Fūzǐ, "Master Kǒng"; or commonly zh, s=, p=Kǒngzǐ, labels=no; ) was a Chinese philosopher Chinese philosophy originates in the Spring and Autumn period () and Warring States period (), ...

Confucius
's school of thought, called
Confucianism Confucianism, also known as Ruism, is a system of thought and behavior originating in ancient China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC ...
, was also influential during the Warring States period, as well as throughout much of the later Zhou dynasty and early imperial periods.The term "Confucian" is rather ill-defined in this context—many self-dubbed Confucians in fact rejected tenets of what was known as "the Way of Confucius", and were disorganized, unlike the later Confucians of the
Song A song is a musical composition Musical composition can refer to an piece or work of , either or , the of a musical piece or to the process of creating or writing a new piece of music. People who create new compositions are called s ...
and Yuan dynasties.
This school of thought had a so-called Confucian canon of literature, known as the "six classics": the Odes, Documents, Ritual, Music,
Spring and Autumn Annals The ''Spring and Autumn Annals'' or ''Chunqiu'' is an ancient Chinese chronicle that has been one of the core Chinese classics Chinese classic texts or canonical texts () or simply dianji (典籍) refers to the Chinese texts which originated ...
, and Changes, which embodied Chinese literature at the time.Lewis 2007, p. 206 During the Qin dynasty, Confucianism—along with all other non-Legalist philosophies, such as Daoism—were suppressed by the First Emperor; early Han dynasty emperors did the same. Legalism denounced the feudal system and encouraged severe punishments, particularly when the emperor was disobeyed. Individuals' rights were devalued when they conflicted with the government's or the ruler's wishes, and merchants and scholars were considered unproductive, fit for elimination.Borthwick, p. 17 One of the more drastic allegations, however the infamous
burning of books and burying of scholars The burning of books and burying of scholars (), also known as burning the books and executing the ru scholars, refers to the supposed burning of texts in 213 BCE Common Era (CE) is one of the year notations used for the Gregorian calendar ...

burning of books and burying of scholars
incident, does not appear to be true, as it was not mentioned until many years later. The Han dynasty historian,
Sima Qian Sima Qian (; ; ) was a Chinese historian of the early Han dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu B ...

Sima Qian
wrote that First Emperor, in an attempt to consolidate power, in 213 BC ordered the burning of all books advocating viewpoints that challenged Legalism or the state, and also stipulated that all scholars who refused to submit their books to be burned would be executed by
premature burial Premature burial, also known as live burial, burial alive, or vivisepulture, means to be buried while still alive. Animals or humans may be buried alive accidentally on the mistaken assumption that they are dead, or intentionally as a form of tort ...
. Only texts considered productive were to be preserved, mostly those that discussed pragmatic subjects, such as agriculture, divination, and medicine.Borthwick, p. 11 However, Sinologists now argue that the "burying of scholars" is not literally true, as the term probably meant simply "put to death".


Government and military

The Qin government was highly
bureaucratic The term bureaucracy () may refer both to a body of non-elected governing officials and to an administrative policy-making group. Historically, a bureaucracy was a government administration managed by departments staffed with non-elected offi ...

bureaucratic
, and was administered by a hierarchy of officials, all serving the First Emperor. The Qin put into practice the teachings of
Han Feizi The ''Han Feizi'' () is an ancient Chinese text attributed to foundational political philosopher Han Fei Han Fei (; ; 233 BC), also known as Han Fei Zi, was a Chinese philosopher or statesman of the "Legalist Legalist, Inc. is a Legal finan ...
, allowing the First Emperor to control all of his territories, including those recently conquered. All aspects of life were standardized, from measurements and language to more practical details, such as the length of chariot axles. The states made by the emperor were assigned to officials dedicated to the task rather than place the burden on people from the royal family. Zheng and his advisors also introduced new laws and practices that ended feudalism in China, replacing it with a centralized, bureaucratic government. The form of government created by the first emperor and his advisors was used by later dynasties to structure their own government. Under this system, both the military and government thrived, as talented individuals could be more easily identified in the transformed society. Later Chinese dynasties emulated the Qin government for its efficiency, despite its being condemned by
Confucian , Shanxi Shanxi (; ; Chinese postal romanization, formerly romanised as Shansi) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China and is part of the North China region. The capital and largest city of th ...

Confucian
philosophy. There were incidences of abuse, however, with one example having been recorded in the "Records of Officialdom". A commander named Hu ordered his men to attack peasants in an attempt to increase the number of "bandits" he had killed; his superiors, likely eager to inflate their records as well, allowed this. Qin Shi Huang also improved the strong military, despite the fact that it had already undergone extensive reforms.Borthwick 2006, p. 10 The military used the most advanced weaponry of the time. It was first used mostly in bronze form, but by the third century BC, kingdoms such as
Chu Chu or CHU may refer to: Chinese history * Chu (state) (c. 1030 BC–223 BC), a state during the Zhou dynasty * Western Chu (206 BC–202 BC), a state founded and ruled by Xiang Yu * Chu Kingdom (Han dynasty) (201 BC–70 AD), a kingdom of the Han ...
{ and
QinQin may refer to: Dynasties and states * Qin (state) (秦), a major state during the Zhou Dynasty of ancient China * Qin dynasty (秦), founded by the Qin state in 221 BC and ended in 206 BC * Daqin (大秦), ancient Chinese name for the Roman Empi ...
were using iron and/or steel swords. The demand for this metal resulted in improved
bellows A bellow or pair of bellows is a device constructed to furnish a strong blast of air File:Atmosphere gas proportions.svg, Composition of Earth's atmosphere by volume, excluding water vapor. Lower pie represents trace gases that together comp ...

bellows
. The
crossbow A crossbow is a ranged weapon using an Elasticity (physics), elastic launching device consisting of a bow (archery), bow-like assembly called a ''prod'', mounted horizontally on a main frame called a ''tiller'', which is hand-held in a similar ...

crossbow
had been introduced in the fifth century BC and was more powerful and accurate than the
composite bow A composite bow is a traditional bow Bow often refers to: * Bow and arrow, a weapon * Bowing, bending the upper body as a social gesture * An ornamental knot made of ribbon Bow may also refer to: Boats * Bow (ship), the foremost part * Bow (ro ...
s used earlier. It could also be rendered ineffective by removing two pins, which prevented enemies from capturing a working crossbow. The Qin also used improved methods of transportation and tactics. The state of Zhao had first replaced
chariot A chariot is a type of carriage A carriage is a private four-wheeled vehicle for people and is most commonly horse-drawn A horse-drawn vehicle is a mechanized piece of equipment pulled by one horse or by a team of horses. These vehicles ...

chariot
s with
cavalry Historically, cavalry (from the French word ''cavalerie'', itself derived from "cheval" meaning "horse") are soldier A soldier is a person who is a member of a professional army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via O ...

cavalry
in 307 BC, but the change was swiftly adopted by the other states because cavalry had greater mobility over the terrain of China.Morton 1995, p. 27 The First Emperor developed plans to fortify his northern border, to protect against nomadic invasions. The result was the initial construction of what later became the
Great Wall of China The Great Wall of China () is a series of fortifications that were built across the historical northern borders of ancient Chinese states and Imperial China as protection against Eurasian nomads, various nomadic groups from the Eurasian Step ...

Great Wall of China
, which was built by joining and strengthening the walls made by the feudal lords, which would be expanded and rebuilt multiple times by later dynasties, also in response to threats from the north. Another project built during Qin Shi Huang's rule was the
Terracotta army The Terracotta Army is a collection of sculptures depicting the armies of , the first . It is a form of buried with the emperor in 210–209 BCE with the purpose of protecting the emperor in his afterlife. The figures, dating from approximat ...

Terracotta army
, intended to protect the emperor after his death. The Terracotta Army was inconspicuous due to its underground location, and was not discovered until 1974.


Religion

The dominant religious belief in China during the reign of the Qin, and, in fact, during much of early imperial China, was focused on the '' shen'' (roughly translating to "spirits" or "gods"), ''yin'' ("shadows"), and the realm they were said to live in. The Chinese offered animal sacrifices in an attempt to contact this other world, which they believed to be parallel to the earthly one. The dead were said to have simply moved from one world to the other. The rituals mentioned, as well as others, served two purposes: to ensure that the dead journeyed and stayed in the other realm, and to receive blessings from the spirit realm.Mystics from the state of Qi, however, saw sacrifices differently—as a way to become immortal.Lewis 2007, p. 178Lewis 2007, p. 186 Religious practices were usually held in local shrines and sacred areas, which contained sacrificial altars. During a sacrifice or other ritual, the senses of all participants and witnesses would be dulled and blurred with smoke, incense, and music. The lead sacrificer would and
meditate Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm an ...

meditate
before a sacrifice to further blur his senses and increase the likelihood of perceiving otherworldly phenomena. Other participants were similarly prepared, though not as rigorously. Such blurring of the senses was also a factor in the practice of spirit intermediaries, or
mediumship Mediumship is the practice of purportedly mediating communication between spirits of the dead and living human beings. Practitioners are known as "mediums" or "spirit mediums". There are different types of mediumship or spirit conduit (channeling ...
. Practitioners of the art would fall into trances or dance to perform supernatural tasks. These people would often rise to power as a result of their art— Luan Da, a Han dynasty medium, was granted rule over 2,000 households. Noted Han historian
Sima Qian Sima Qian (; ; ) was a Chinese historian of the early Han dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu B ...

Sima Qian
was scornful of such practices, dismissing them as foolish trickery.Lewis 2007, p. 180
Divination Divination (from Latin ''divinare'', 'to foresee, to foretell, to predict, to prophesy') is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occult The occult, in the broadest sense, is a category of supernatural ...

Divination
—to predict and/or influence the future—was yet another form of religious practice. An ancient practice that was common during the Qin dynasty was cracking bones or turtle shells to gain knowledge of the future. The forms of divination which sprang up during early imperial China were diverse, though observing natural phenomena was a common method.
Comet A comet is an icy, small Solar System body A small Solar System body (SSSB) is an object in the Solar System The Solar SystemCapitalization of the name varies. The International Astronomical Union, the authoritative body regarding astr ...

Comet
s,
eclipse ECLiPSe is a software system for the development and deployment of Constraint Programming Constraint programming (CP) is a paradigm for solving combinatorial problems that draws on a wide range of techniques from artificial intelligence ...

eclipse
s, and droughts were considered omens of things to come.Lewis 2007, p. 181


Etymology of China

The name 'Qin' is believed to be the etymological ancestor of the modern-day European name of the country, China. The word probably made its way into the
Indo-Aryan languages The Indo-Aryan or Indic languages form a major language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages h ...
first as 'Cina' or 'Sina' and then into
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
and
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
as 'Sinai' or 'Thinai'. It was then transliterated into English and French as 'China' and 'Chine'. This etymology is dismissed by some scholars, who suggest that 'Sina' in
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor langua ...

Sanskrit
evolved much earlier before the Qin dynasty. ' Jin', a state controlled by the
Zhou dynasty The Zhou dynasty ( ; Old Chinese Old Chinese, also called Archaic Chinese in older works, is the oldest attested stage of Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China ...
in seventh century BC, is another possible origin.Keay 2009, p. 98. Others argued for the state of
Jing__NOTOC__ Jing can refer to: * Jing (software), formerly Jing Project * Jing (surname), a Chinese surname * Jing River, in China * Jing (instrument), a large gong used in Korean traditional music Concepts * Chinese classics (, ''jīng'') * Jing (C ...
(荆, another name for
Chu Chu or CHU may refer to: Chinese history * Chu (state) (c. 1030 BC–223 BC), a state during the Zhou dynasty * Western Chu (206 BC–202 BC), a state founded and ruled by Xiang Yu * Chu Kingdom (Han dynasty) (201 BC–70 AD), a kingdom of the Han ...
), as well as other polities in the early period as the source of the name.


Sovereigns

Qin Shi Huang was the first Chinese sovereign to proclaim himself "Emperor", after unifying China in 221 BC. That year is therefore generally taken by historians to be the start of the "Qin dynasty" which lasted for fifteen years until 207 when it was cut short by civil wars.Bodde 1986, p. 20 {, class="wikitable" , ----- !
Posthumous name A posthumous name is an honorary name given to royalty, nobles, and sometimes others, in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern He ...
/ title ! Personal name ! Period of Reigns , - ,
Shi Huangdi Qin Shi Huang (, ; 18 February 25910 September 210) was the founder of the Qin dynasty and the first Emperor of China, emperor of a unified China. From 247 to 221 BC he was Zheng, King of Qin (, ''Qín Wáng Zhèng'', personal name 嬴政 ''Y ...
, , Zheng (政) , 221 – 210 BC , - , Er Shi Huangdi , Huhai (胡亥) , , 210 – 207 BC , - , ''None'' , ,
Ziying Ziying, King of Qin (, died January 206  BC) was the third and last ruler of the Qin dynasty. He ruled over a fragmented Qin Empire for 46 days, from mid-October to early December 207  BC. He is referred to in some sources with th ...
(子嬰) , 207 BC


Imperial family tree


See also

*
Chinese sovereign The Chinese sovereign was the ruler of a particular regime in ancient China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty The Shang dynasty (), also historical ...
*
Emperor of China Emperor of China, or ''Huángdì'' (), was the Chinese sovereign, monarch of China during the History of China#Imperial China, imperial period of Chinese history. In traditional Chinese political theory, the emperor was considered the Son of He ...
* Hata clan *
Later Qin The Later Qin (; 384–417), also known as Yao Qin (), was a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The St ...
* '' The Legend of Qin''


Notes


References


Citations


Sources

* * * * * * * * * * * *


Further reading

* * * * Yap, Joseph P. (2009). ''Wars with the Xiongnu, A Translation from Zizhitongjian, Zizhi tongjian''. AuthorHouse, Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.A. .


External links

* {{Authority control Qin dynasty, Dynasties in Chinese history Iron Age Asia Former countries in East Asia States and territories established in the 3rd century BC 221 BC 220s BC establishments States and territories disestablished in the 3rd century BC 1st-millennium BC disestablishments in China Qin Shi Huang Former monarchies of East Asia